Happy Valentine’s Day!
I see you…Are you groaning at me? Are you jaded?
What if this Valentine’s Day instead of hating the holiday and hating yourself in the process you went out and did something that made you feel awesome?
How about some good ole-fashioned self-love? It’s only logical. I’d even say it is your basic responsibility.
Unless you’ve figured out how to transfer your consciousness to an eternal robot body, you’re going to be in this corporeal organism for the rest of your life. The care and keeping of your body is the best investment you could make. Though we cannot control our stimuli in every circumstance, we can spend time with our bodies, learning what they prefer and setting our own standards.
No matter how many people you feel you must give to, you will not be able to give to them effectively unless you have taken care of yourself. In fact, taking care of your body to the highest standard will likely inspire everyone around you to do the same for themselves. It’s a win-win-win. So many wins!
You’re the person who lives in your body the most (lovers and/or growing babies only get a taste). This Valentine’s Day, might I suggest setting a new standard for self love? Might I suggest jumping into indulging your senses with something highly personal, highly nurturing to you?
I can’t tell you what that is because you are you. You know what you need. You’ve got the manual via your senses. Use it. The way to read the manual is to go in the direction of what feels good.
It doesn’t matter what profession you’re in, your body is your main tool of work and it’s always worth following what secures your base. If there is a food you need to eat that makes you feel more nourished, it’s always worth the investment! If there is something more comfortable or more expressive you could be wearing to improve how you feel, it’s worth the investment. The idea of going “from the outside-in” is an important factor of living life in full authenticity. By that, I mean listening to your ears if the room is too loud, respect what twinges.
Don’t arbitrarily push through discomfort. Move toward comfort. You can do great things in optimal comfort!
Workaholic tendencies are glorified in our culture. There are judgments and opinions from all angles whenever we want to take a break or a nap. There is an onslaught of food obsessions and opinions as well. If you could delete all the judgements about “selfishness” and “being an over sensitive wimp” and listen to what your body needed, you might find that real strength comes from respecting your own boundaries.
I know it’s probably the biggest, most dismissible cliche but “You need to love yourself before you can love anyone else” is simply true. Everything in your life can grow from self love. Spending time with yourself, finding out what you prefer and approaching your desires
without internal judgment? That’s your right. Go explore!
Many of us are taught that we must sacrifice ourselves for love. We learn at some point that love is something that can be earned, traded, gained. But what if you talk to someone who is in an inspiringly loving marriage? For them, love is a baseline, not something that needs to be won. Love just exists. It is maintained like a garden rather than taken or given.
Self-love is the soil for that garden. (Oh no, I’m in a metaphor! A garden metaphor! But it’s helpful, this garden metaphor.) We decide to grow a garden. We decide to till the earth, tend the plants, watch them grow, enjoy them. Love is all about that tending, that attention, that appreciation for what is growing and thriving. It doesn’t focus on lack, it supports what exists.
Self love is the same. Finding delight through the senses is a celebration of being alive. It aligns us physically to do better, give more, grow.
I meet so many people who seem to have a leash on themselves. They throw down rules and restrictions toward pleasure. They seem to think they are good if they withhold from themselves. What’s the worst that could happen if you spent a day going in the direction of exploring your senses? Your senses are serving you all day long to feed you information about this overstimulating, sense-crushing world we’ve built for ourselves. Why not give back to your senses this Valentine’s Day? Why not create a practice based on the way you need?
Get in there! Get into your preferences. Someone somewhere will have a judgment toward you. Someone somewhere will embrace you for what makes you feel good. Don’t put those voices in your head while you’re making your standards. Get in there and listen to you.
What I’ve discovered from taking alone time to decide what my senses need is that I can give much better attention to my loved ones when I’ve taken the time to respect myself. Taking the time to find exactly what my senses prefer has made me more responsible and authentic in my entire being. A practice of self-love creates unshakable strength toward goals.
I’ve learned the exact places where my boundaries are and where I am flexible. I’ve studied myself in private like a scientist and really, it wasn’t some groundbreaking spiritual journey, I just took time every day to really spend with me. I paid full attention to myself in the shower or in a mirror or on a yoga mat. Wherever you feel you’re exploring your senses, go there. Spend time there. Focus on you. Focus on the physical. Know yourself like an expert.
If veggies aren’t to your taste, how about sweets? I’ve got a cake metaphor for you. You are a cake. The structural integrity of your cake must be strong, the right shape and the texture must be to your liking. Bake that cake until it smells exactly how your nose wants it to smell. Only when it is done will you know what kind of icing is right for it. If, in this wacky cake metaphor, you don’t currently call for icing, you needn’t apply it! Perhaps you’ll know the right icing when you see it. Or smell it. Or taste it.
Our society puts romantic love on a pedestal. It’s great! It’s wonderful. But it’s not the cake, it’s the icing. The cake needs to exist first.
I can’t tell you how to bake your cake. That’s the thing, you just have to decide to be with yourself and go in the direction of what feels best. We’re all the same in that we all seek love, we all are human. What makes us different is that we have these wonderfully variant bodies and minds, these wonderful senses that respond to stimuli differently. Find your delights and surround yourself with them. You get to set your standards, decide your delights.
It’s Valentine’s Day. Do what’s right for you. Set your standards. Love yourself first and then decide how/if you’d like to give to others and if you do the baseline self-love every day, your giving toward others will be fuller and clearer.
Even if you have a hot date planned for Valentine’s Day, make time for you first. You’ll give and receive at a more effective level if you take care of the cake before you apply the icing. And we’re back to the cake metaphor again. It’s OK, I accept myself for it.
I’ll leave you with two videos I like that fortify principles of the way I utilize Self-Love:
How To Succeed? Get More Sleep: Arianna Huffington TED Talk
Self Love – The Great Shortcut to Enlightenment
How do you practice self love?